Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, but said in a statement to his company’s shareholders that the condition was “not remotely life-threatening”.
The 81-year-old chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate said in a letter to shareholders that the two-month radiation treatment he and his doctors planned to start in mid-July would restrict his travel but should not otherwise affect his routine.
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“I feel great, as if I were in my normal excellent health,” said Buffett.
Buffett, one of the world’s richest people, was diagnosed on 11 April and has since undergone a CAT scan, bone scan and MRI. He said the tests showed no indication of cancer elsewhere in his body.
Buffett’s stake in Berkshire Hathaway was worth $44.6bn as of Tuesday’s closing prices before the announcement.
In February Buffett told shareholders that Berkshire’s board had chosen someone to succeed him as chief operating officer in the future and he said there were two backup candidates as well.
The tycoon said the unnamed chosen successor and back-ups had not been told they were in line to take over the company.
Buffett has previously said his son Howard, a member of Berkshire’s board, would make an ideal chairman.
Buffett’s success as an investor and straight-talking style have made him a well-known figure in the US, where his name has recently been associated with Barack Obama’s plans to raise taxes for the wealthy , supported by Buffett but blocked this week by the US Senate.
Despite his wealth, Buffett still works in his hometown of Omaha and lives in a house he bought in 1958.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, as more than 241,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States this year.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate for US prostate cancers found at an early, localised stage is nearly 100 per cent. Many prostate cancer patients die of something else before the cancer kills them.
“I will let shareholders know immediately should my health situation change,” Buffett said. “Eventually, of course, it will; but I believe that day is a long way off.”